October is my favorite month in Japan. The weather is perfect, and the leaves start to change colour and fall. There is a national holiday called Sports Day, in which communities come together to enjoy exercising together. And at the end of the month is my all-time favorite mini-holiday: Halloween! In Japan, as in North America, Halloween first appears in shop windows and stations. Decorations start to pop up and sweets and costumes are sold in all the shops, Halloween in Japan has come! I love Halloween and Japan never disappoints although it is not the same as back home.
Halloween in Japan is the Same!
Costumes, decorations, candy. Halloween in Japan looks very similar to Halloween in Canada and the USA. People even comment about how early Halloween goods are sold in stores, for example early-September (some years even late August). Halloween is not a public holiday thus it is mostly an occassion for children to enjoy dressing up in costumes and getting lots of snack foods. I love Halloween in Japan but it is quite different than Halloween in my home town.
Halloween in Japan is NOT the same.
How is it not the same? Snacks are completely different. In Canada (where I grew up) we got mini chocolate bars and sour candies and candy corn and sometimes boxes of raisins. Halloween in Japan? Rice crackers, biscuits, dry “ramune” candies, pretzel sticks (Pretz) and chocolate pretzel sticks (Pocky) and sometimes tiny packs of gummy candies (mostly German brand Haribo). Similar and yet different. Another difference? Mostly there are no real Jack-o-lanterns, although most people will decorate with plastic light-up ones, or posters. How about costumes in Japan?
Costumes in Japan are … NOT the Same!
Halloween in Japan is similar but also different. In what way is it different? Costume variety is one interesting point. Japanese halloween costumes tend to focus on the classics, such as witches and vampires and princesses and fairies and ghosts. Cuteness is another key element of Halloween in Japan and is especially obvious in the costumes. In 15 years I have never seen a scary halloween costume, and every time I dress up as something unique, people don’t think I am “dressed up”. For example, one year I was a bicycle accident victim, another year I was Daisuke Jigen from the Lupin the Third series and another year I was the main character from the movie The Crow. These costumes received responses of confusion and fright. Cute and easily recognizabble costumes are recommended.
What else does Halloween in Japan entail?
There are so many neat little things about life in Japan and Halloween doesn’t disappoint. Bakeries and patisseries make the cutest little breads and rolls in all sort of Halloween designs. Local community groups hosts events for kids and adults. Cafes have special sets with Halloween themes. The biggest event in Japan is in Shibuya crossing, which is a circus style crossing outside the busiest train station in the world. Thousands of people gather in costume every year, just to enjoy te atmosphere of Halloween. It’s quite a spectacle! Check out Youtube if you would like to see the craziness of Shibuya at Halloween!